Facing apathy from Hungarian State Opera, Hindus to approach Orbán about dropping “La Bayadère”

"VAN" (International Desk - 04.04.2024) :: In view of receiving no response from Hungarian State Opera (HSO) (Magyar Állami Operaház) regarding withdrawing “La Bayadère” ballet, upset Hindus are thinking of requesting Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed emailed various HSO officials, urging them to withdraw “La Bayadère” ballet; scheduled for June 14-27, 2025 in Budapest; which they felt seriously trivialized Eastern religious and other traditions.

Hindus are also thinking of approaching the Council of Europe Cultural Affairs Committee and Commissioner for Human Rights on this issue.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, in a statement in Nevada (USA), had said that taxpayer-supported HSO should not be in the business of callously promoting appropriation of traditions, elements and concepts of “others”; and ridiculing entire communities.

Rajan Zed had indicated that this deeply problematic ballet was just a blatant belittling of a rich civilization and exhibited 19th-century orientalist attitudes. He had also urged HSO to apologize for such an inappropriate selection.

HSO, “the only classical ballet company in Hungary”, should have shown some maturity before selecting a ballet like “La Bayadère” (The Temple Dancer), displaying Western caricaturing of Eastern heritage and abetting ethnic stereotyping; Zed had noted.

It was highly irresponsible for an institution like State supported HSO, to choose such a ballet, which had been blamed for patronizing flawed mishmash of orientalist stereotypes, dehumanizing cultural portrayal and misrepresentation, offensive and degrading elements, needless appropriation of cultural motifs, essentialism, shallow exoticism, caricaturing, etc. HSO could do better than this to serve its diverse stakeholders; Rajan Zed had stated.

Zed had suggested HSO General Director Szilveszter Ókovács, Ballet Director Tamás Solymosi, and Artistic Director András Almási-Tóth to re-evaluate their systems and procedures and send their executives for cultural sensitivity training so that such an inappropriate stuff did not slip through in the future.

Moreover; Hungarian Ministry of Culture and Innovation led by János Csák and Hungarian National Cultural Council should seriously rethink their relationship with HSO if it continued with ballets like “La Bayadère”, which trivialized traditions of “others”; Rajan Zed had added.

Like many others, Hindus also consider ballet as one of the revered art forms which offers richness and depth. But we are well into 21st century now, and outdated “La Bayadère”, which was first presented in St. Petersburg (Russia) in 1877, is long overdue for permanent retirement from the world stage; Zed points out.

This two hours 55 minutes (with two intermissions) long “La Bayadère” (choreographer Albert Mirzoyan and conductors Gábor Hontvári, Máté Hámori, Domonkos Héja) is a classical ballet in three acts. HSO, which claims to be "striving for world class quality in all our productions", was founded in 1884.


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